There’s more to finding a tax preparer than doing a search for “[your town] tax preparer.” You want to be sure the person preparing your tax return is qualified and experienced.
If you have a simple tax return, you also have the most flexibility in choosing a tax preparer. If your tax return is more complex, your search is likely to take longer.
We’re partnering with H&R Block to look at what makes a good tax preparer and conclude with some tips on finding one near you. H&R Block makes preparing your taxes easy - both online and offline.
Look for Credentials
Using a CPA or EA (enrolled agent) to prepare your tax return are both great options. An attorney can be used as well. You can verify a CPA license at https://cpaverify.org. EAs can also be verified through the IRS but you’ll have to email them. You can find information on verifying an EA here https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/verify-the-status-of-an-enrolled-agent.
If you’re using H&R Block, all of their tax pros go through extensive training and they employ more Enrolled Agents than any other company. On average, their tax pros have at least 10 years of experience doing taxes. Find a local H&R Block tax preparer here >>
Business vs. Individual Returns
If you are a business owner, finding someone experienced in filing returns for businesses can be an advantage over someone who only files returns for individuals.
Business returns can be more complicated than individual returns, which may increase preparation time and cost. Be prepared to pay more for preparing a business return. Business returns may be done as part of the individual return or separately from it as well, depending on the type of business.
If you’re a small business owner, it can be helpful to have all your business tax stuff (like bookkeeping and payroll) in one place. H&R Block has a variety of business tax services that can support your needs. Check it out here >>
What Do You Want From Your Tax Preparer?
You might only need someone who can file your tax return. In that case, any reputable and experienced tax preparer will do. But if you need someone to answer tax questions throughout the year, who you find to do your return matters more. You want to be comfortable with the preparer and feel as though they are going to be responsive when you call or email them. H&R Block offices are available to answer questions year-round, though the specific preparer may not be, since some only work during tax season.
Doing a little tax planning during the summer can potentially save you thousands at tax time. But you’d only find out if you speak to a tax pro!
Will They Represent You?
If the IRS decides to audit you, it’s best to have a tax preparer who will represent you and gather all the needed documentation. Not all tax preparers will do this. If audit representation is something you want, check before hiring that audit representation services are offered.
H&R Block in person and online both offer audit support. With H&R Block’s Peace of Mind, you get help answering IRS notices, audit representation, and up to $6,000 if H&R Block made a mistake and you owe additional taxes.
Check out H&R Block here.
Do You Need a Tax Refund Loan?
While we don’t recommend you get a tax refund loan (since the average return only takes 21 days to process — see our refund calendar here), we also know we can’t be your mom. Make sure you read the pros and cons of tax refund loans here.
If you want to get a tax refund loan, you typically need to go into a tax preparer’s office. And H&R Block offers the best tax refund loans we’ve seen.
No E-Filing Can Be a Red Flag
Tax preparers who file 11 or more returns per year must e-file. A preparer who doesn’t offer e-filing may be a tip-off that they don’t do much tax filing. This might be someone you want to skip.
Where To Find Volunteer Assistance
There are a couple of programs through the IRS that offer volunteer tax preparation:
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program — “offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers.”
- Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program — “offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.”
Finding a Tax Preparer Near You
If you want to find an H&R Block near you, check out this link and make an appointment today: H&R Block office near you.
If you want to check more locations, try these:
- Enrolled agents: https://www.naea.org/.
- Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications: https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.
- Search “[your town] CPA” or EA and read through Google reviews for each preparer. Also, use the information from this article to ensure the preparer is qualified and will meet your needs.
Finding a tax preparer near you is not difficult. It’s a matter of qualifying the person and verifying their credentials. Online reviews are very helpful since you can read about the experiences of other customers.
If you are looking for a long-term relationship with the preparer, choose someone who you are comfortable with and believe will be responsive throughout the year (if needed).
While many people may find that filing online or using tax prep software is the easiest way to go, there is still value in going to a tax preparer in some situations.
If you have a complex tax return, if you have a business, or if you really don’t feel comfortable doing it online.
In these cases, finding a tax preparer near you can be essential to getting your taxes done correctly each year.
Check out H&R Block and see if they can be the right tax pro for you.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared toward anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.